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Municipality Looking at Retaining Walls, Berms For Flood Mitigation in Lower Townsite

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Municipality Looking at Retaining Walls, Berms For Flood Mitigation in Lower Townsite

Photo via Municipality

The municipality is looking at a new strategy when it comes to protecting homes from floods.

Administration told Council Tuesday they’re looking at retaining walls and berms in the Lower Townsite, Ptarmigan Court, and Waterways.

They’re moving away from the original plan of adding demountable walls as they would need to be oversized to take the force of solid ice smashing into it. It’s also noted that the added weight would result in the need for better-trained staff and better equipment.

The retaining walls would protect homes 250 metres above sea level with the province saying the likelihood of a flood of this size happening every 100 years.

Councillor Phil Meagher says they need to realize ‘the ice will do what the ice decides to do.’

“It’s not a question of if we’re going to get a flood, it’s a question of when – we know that floods will come.”

He says municipal records show back in 1875 a flood crept over 252 metres meaning its still possible to happen nowadays.

“If that’s breached, where’s the water going to go to – it’s going to be stuck.”

Meagher believes the retaining wall is a good solution but they need solid earth behind them to make sure they can absorb the impact of the flood to ensure there’s no chance of water being stuck if it breaches the wall.

The project is still in the design phase with council still needing to approve the proposed $153 million project.

The province is also waiting for the walls to be built as homes destroyed by the Horse River Wildfire were only grandfathered to be rebuilt in the areas because the municipality promised mitigation measures would be followed.

Disaster relief funding would also not be available if a plan isn’t followed through in the foreseeable future.

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